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Back in January, over on my thesis blog, that I wind up never using, I mentioned that I wanted to work on stuff for the Teaching Open Source Textbook. I just finished a review of my thoughts on the target audience, and objectives for the first chapter. To sum it up, it is targeted at competent/high level students, but reads like a tutorial for someone newer to development than I am! The objectives are solid, but when I read it it has a lot of “let’s pay pretend you’re going to do something, that I know damn well your professor is probably going to assign anyhow.”

Despite my gripes with the tone, I think it’s an excellent book. The objectives in the finished chapters are clear, and the exercises correlate closely to the stated, or implicit goals for that chapter. Anyone, with the pre-requisite knowledge of programming, who sits down and does all of the exercises in the book will wind up much more comfortable participating in Open Source communities. Just by reading it I felt more comfortable shooting of my thoughts to the project list, and asking for feedback and thoughts on the direction I want to take in adding review questions, and knowledge checks to the book.

We’ll see what the results are, but I think the best way to proceed is to divide the actions and the ideas into two separate tests. The Exercises test the actions the student should be able to take. The purpose of the review questions then is to prompt thought on the new ideas, and help test if the student has absorbed the ideas.

Since each chapter’s ideas seem to be pretty atomic I suspect that the hard thing is going to be to devising more than a handful of questions for each chapters review questions, and devising ones with clearly correct or incorrect answers that can be self checked. I’ll block out a few hours tomorrow afternoon to working out how to do this for chapter 1, and work on a objective inventory for the first two chapters.

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